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A Beautiful Tradition -  Karwa Chauth

A Beautiful Tradition - Karwa Chauth 0

October 19th is Karwa Chauth. Karwa Chauth - an annual festival which is filled with colors, zeal and enthusiasm. The name Karwa Chauth comes from the words Karwa meaning pot and Chauth meaning fourth in Hindi. Thus, the festival comes on the fourth day of Krishna Paksha, or darker night on the Indian month of Kartik. It has both cultural and social significance since ancient times and is celebrated with huge fervor. Hindu women all across North and North western India practice fast from sunrise until moonrise on this special day and get dressed in their best attires with solah (sixteen) shringar and pray for their husbands long life and to enjoy the company of friends and relatives. Even unmarried women or girls keep this fast in prayer of a good husband. There are many stories that relate to the history of Karwa Chauth. The festival also coincides with the wheat sowing time. Big earthen pots in which wheat is stored are called Katwas, so the fast may have begun as a prayer for a good harvest in this pre-dominantly wheat eating region.
The morning begins with activities like applying intricate henna designs in hands and dressing up for the festival. After having the traditional pre - dawn Karwa chauth meal called sargi, women fast for the entire day. By evening, vibrantly dressed women gather in a house or nearby temple for Karwa chauth pija celebration. There is a tradition of reading karwa chauth story and puja thali for this special occasion is decorated with flowers and a small pitcher or karwa filled with wheat is placed in the center. All the women sit in a circle and as the story continues, ladies circulate their thalis. After the puja, this thai is handed over to the eldest female member of the family who blesses every women to get all the happiness in life. The moment moon rises, they would a glimpse of the moon and their husband. Next, the women would drink water to break their fast. This marks the culmination of the rituals of Karwa chauth which is followed by feasting.
  • Shweta Modi
Shila Mata Temple, Jaipur

Shila Mata Temple, Jaipur 0

The Shila mata (Stone Goddess) temple at Amber fort (Jaipur, Rajasthan) is dedicated to the Goddess Durga. Thousands of people from Jaipur and surrounding areas come here to pay offerings to Shila mata.

Although Jaipur is known for its Murtikars (idol carvers), this particular idol was not made in Jaipur, but came to Jaipur from far away Bengal. It is believed that Maharaja Mansingh brought the statue of the Goddess Shila mata from Jessore (now in Bangladesh) in 1604. Legends say that Maharaja Mansingh received a defeat at the hands of king Kedar. Humiliated and depressed, the Maharaja worshipped goddess Durga to bless him. Goddess appeared in his dreams and asked him to recover her statue lying under sea near Jessore (now in Bangladesh) and install it in a temple. The idol was recovered from the sea in the form of a shila (slab) and brought to Amber, when cleaned and washed, the present idol appeared. This is why the goddess is named as Shila mata.

It took 10 long years to build the temple. The temple is made out of white marble and the idol is black in colour. An idol of Lord Ganesha is carved here out of a single piece of coral. Extremely beautiful is the whole conception of the temple. Adherence to the principles of vastu has made it as ideal work of architecture. The fort and the temple are on a hill and are cozily nestled in the lap of Mother Nature. The surrounding hills of Amber reverberate when special pooja is offered and drums are beaten. The visitors and tourist find that moment a most memorable life time experience.

  • Shweta Modi
Karni Mata Temple

Karni Mata Temple 1

karni mata temple
Karni mata temple is located in Deshnok, 30 kms from Bikaner,Rajasthan and is dedicated to Karni mata, a famous mystic of her times, believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga  (known to remove evil, misery, pain from our lives). Karni mata was the sixth daughter of Mehoji charan and Deval devi born in the fourteenth century in a village of Jodhpur, Rajasthan. A night before when karni mata was born, Deval devi, dreamt that a Goddess appears and blesses her with the words that the Goddess will be born to you, as an incarnation of Goddess Durga.  The royal families of Bikaner and Jodhpur officialy worship Karni mata.
karni mata
It is one of the strangest temples in the world. The temple is home to over 20,000 rats which are treated as sacred. It is considered very lucky to spot a white rat in the temple. Apparently, even during the worst of plagues, the town of Deshnok was not affected. Strange but true, eating food that has been nibbled by the rats is considered to be a ‘high honor’. It is regarded auspicious, if a rat runs across one’s feet.  It is considered as that after Karni mata’s death, she became a rat. The Charan clans believe that once they die, they too will be re-incarnated as a rat and subsequently when a rat in the temple dies, it will be re-incarnated as a human again.
Karni mata lived for 150 years and remained young and beautiful. During her lifetime she performed many miracles and led her whole life to help all the needy people.
The temple was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh ji of Bikaner, which dated back to 15th century. There is beautiful marble facade in the temple which has solid silver doors, which are made in Mughal Rajput architecture style. The silver doors were donated by Maharaja on his visit to temple. The temple contains foot prints of Mata ji so symbolize her visit to the place. There is idol of karni mata holding Trishul and Mukut surrounds by the rats.
 To see the temple in full glory, visitors should come late at night or before sunrise, when the rats are out in full force, gathering food.
The karni mata fair is also very popular among the devotees and tourists. It is held twice a year. The first in March-April during Navratras and the second is held in September-October, also during the Navratras. During Navratras thousands of people travel to the temple by foot.
Navratri-Nine Divine Nights

Navratri-Nine Divine Nights 0

Navratri is a nine day festival of Indians honoring the Mother Goddess and tenth day is celebrated as vijayadashmi or Dussehra, famous for the day when lord Ram killed Ravana. This celebration occurs twice a year. The first one is in the spring during March/April and the second one is in the fall during September/October, based on the lunar cycle. It is celebrated widely in every part of India with great enthusiasm with a different name of Goddess, like in Gujarat devotees worship as Goddess jagdamba while in West Bengal it is named as Durga Puja. In Kolkata people erected huge pandals at various places for Durga Puja and set up great idols of Mata Durga for worship. In Gujarat, Dandiya and Garba are the two popular dance forms which are performed by the people during Navratri festival and in Rajasthan people worship at Sheela Mata mandir especially at Amer fort, Jaipur, Harsha mata mandir,Abhaneri, Mehrangarh fort, Jjodhpur etc.In every state of India worshiping and celebration style is different but the devotion is same.

Navratri is not just a time to celebrate and of joy but is to attain over lasting happiness, peace and bliss through self-discipline, self-control and sacrifice. Every day the festivities begin with aarti focusing on the nine different manifestations of the Goddess each day. Mother goddess is the energy of the trinity as the creative aspect of Lord Brahma, sustaining aspect of Lord Vishnu and destructive aspect of Lord Shiva are all encompassed within her. The trinity of Goddesses Durga (known to remove evil, misery, pain from our lives), Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth) and Saraswati (Goddess of knowledge) together represent feminine energy that provides protection, love, prosperity and knowledge.

Nav-Durga is spiritually significant because it represents the three stages of an individual’s spiritual journey:-

  • self-purification- eradication of the negative tendencies of our minds and hearts. People pray to Mother Goddess, asking her to use her destructive power to destroy all imperfections and faults.
  • self transformation-– after self purification, the next three days of Navratri are devoted to worshiping the Goddess in her prosperity- bestowing form as Lakshmi. Goddess Lakshmi doesnot merely bestow material prosperity but also grants qualities such as calmness, peace, compassion, happiness, positive attitude and love.
  • self- realization- during last three days, Goddess Saraswati is worshipped as the bestower of the true light of knowledge, wisdom and understanding.

Navratri is not just a time to celebrate Mother Goddess victory over the demons; it is also the time to pray to Mother Goddess to remove our enemies within us like anger, selfish desires, greed, ego and undue attachments.

Happy Navratri to all of you!

 

 

  • Shweta Modi